Here we are, starting a new year where so much will happen: the London Olympics, the US Presidential Election, the end of the current global financial crisis (we hope!) and tons of other exciting stuff. Did you get your new calendar yet? Any New Year resolutions? Concerned about how to start the year on the right footing?
Then I can offer no better advice than making 2012 the year when your personal brand shines. Indeed, 2011 was the year where Personal Branding came of age, with renewed interest as shown by the countless editions of Dan Schawbel‘s ‘Me 2.0‘ in languages like French, Spanish (about time!), Italian, Korean, Bahasa Indonesian, etc. and hundreds of personal branding conferences, videos, workshops and new companies offering personal branding management and related services in every continent. It would be wrong for you to be left out of the personal branding revolution, especially when your career and much more is potentially at stake! Plus, personal branding can be so much fun if you put your heart and mind into it.
All that is very well (I hear you say) but how can I kick-start my personal brand in 2012 and reach new heights as I progress in my personal branding journey?
- First, read quality materials that point you in the right direction. In case you did not get a nice Christmas present, this might be the time to grant yourself some good reading materials like the already mentioned ‘Me 2.0‘, William Arruda’s ‘Career Distinction‘ or Peter Montoya’s ‘The Brand Called You‘. And if you have overspent during the festive season, just click the ‘Subscribe’ button here at Personal Branding Blog (yes, it’s free!). This will offer you a wealth of tried and tested ideas and methods that will ensure you don’t learn by trial and error and/or have to reinvent the wheel but instead concentrate on what works.
- Secondly, revamp your LinkedIn profile. At the start of 2011 I anticipated that LinkedIn would not stop growing and would in fact outsmart some of its tougher competitors in Europe and elsewhere. I am glad it was caught on tape because time has proven me right. A good LinkedIn profile sends a clear, coherent and consistent message about your professionalism, attention to detail, creativity and high standards. Specifically, I’d like to invite you to be proactive with recommendations (and make sure you recommend those who deserve it too!), fill in all the gaps and add some cool apps like ‘Reading Now’, ‘Tripit‘ or your Slideshare visual CV or presentation of choice.
- Thirdly, commit to a growth strategy for your Twitter, Facebook page and other social media accounts key to your brand. At the very least when it comes to your online brand strategy, an easy equation applies: the larger your community of fans and followers, the more chances you have of promoting your message and making your contents (and your résumé is indeed one of them) reach far. Taking Twitter as an example, I would invite you to get familiar with (free) tools and apps such as Twazzup, Twiangulate or Twaitter that will help you expand your community strategically by focusing on the keywords and terms that are important to you. The effort will pay off handsomely and will open a new window to hundreds and hundreds of people you can communicate with, learn from, teach and help. One of them might be your future employer or business partner.
- Fourthly, start a professional blog if you have not already done so. If you want to be relevant in your field, share your opinions, prove that you care and add to your professional community, I cannot think of a better way to make a difference almost for free (at least in monetary terms). Blogs require a commitment in time and the producing of quality content and you need to make sure you play your cards right: if you are a good writer, write; if you are a good designer, create stunning designs and infographies; whatever you do, make sure that you present yourself in the best possible light! Buy your .com .net or even .me domain and use some good software platform like WordPress or Blogger to launch your blogging career! If you already have a blog, think of some practical improvements like the header design, CSS and other visual elements.
- Last but not least (and most especially if you didn’t do so in 2011), update your social media profiles and ‘About Me‘ info. These should include all the relevant keywords by which you want to be found in Google and display the best possible picture of yourself in order to achieve your personal branding goals. One cannot ever overemphasize the important of pictures as the first crucial visual element of your brand. What impression is your picture creating of that brand called you? How would your brand benefit from an upgrade? Go pro and book an appointment with a photographer if necessary, but have a reduced number of pics (maybe just one will do the job!) that you use consistently across the Web 2.0 to reinforce your brand core message.
It’s great to start the new year full of high hopes for your career and your life. And it’s even better to know that there is so much you can do to help your case and make your voice heard while actually contributing to others in your personal and professional fields. It’s your personal branding journey, one that could land you that dream job or allow you to reach that goal in 2012. Get ready and take some action now!
Oscar Del Santo is a lecturer, consultant, key speaker, blogger and populariser of online reputation and inbound marketing in Spain. He has been extensively featured in the Spanish and Latin American media and is a regular contributor to several TV programs. Included in the ‘Top 70 Spanish Tweeters’ and ‘Best Marketing Tweeters in Spanish’ lists (@OscarDS), he is the author of ‘Reputacion Online para Tod@s’.